7 Favorite Things to Do in Coastal Skerries, Ireland

7 Favorite Things to Do in Coastal Skerries, Ireland

7 Favorite Things to Do in Coastal Skerries, Ireland

North of Dublin on the Irish Sea coast, the small town of Skerries welcomes you with its windmills and watermill. Visit the city’s ancient churches or take a walk along the seafront where you can see the three islands and the supposed first place where St. Patrick.

Living in Ireland, I love everything Skerries has to offer for adventurers, history buffs and watersports enthusiasts. Here are my favorite activities.

Skerries Mills watermill

Skerries Mills watermill

Image credit: Gail Clifford

1. Skerry mills

Skerries Mills, a living museum located in Skerries, County Dublin, just 30 minutes by train from Dublin city centre, is the only site in Ireland with three national monuments. Both four- and five-sail windmills have this distinction, as does a watermill. It’s a shame the bakery can’t claim this award as well, because in my humble opinion, it too deserves National Treasure status under the watchful eye of Chef Ivo, offering both sweets and treats for every appetite.

The tour has been operated by the same two local guides, Gavin and Paddy, for over 20 years, both descendants of early workers.

You will visit the mill building and witness the sifting, milling, sifting and packing process that takes place at each of the three mills.

“Since the 12th century, flour has been ground in this unique place. The fully restored complex brings to life the authentic workings of a five-sail windmill, a four-sail windmill, a watermill and a 19th-century bakery. This gives visitors examples of how our ancestors used wind and water power,” explained Skerries Mill.

Windmills

Four-sail windmill or small windmill, circa 1460, the oldest in Ireland with a thatched roof, requires canvas sails to be dropped from the end of each section. It has one stone.

The five-sail windmill, or Great Windmill, from around 1780, with a copper roof, has wooden louvered sails that can be opened and closed from below. It has two sets of stones and can be twice as efficient as a mill with four sails.

Recreation of Miller's office

Recreation of Miller’s office

Image credit: Gail Clifford

Watermill

There is no river nearby, so these industrious souls created a mill pond and their river to flow into the building, with the wheel always within sight of the miller from his office. During the tour, they recreated the miller’s office, the city center. The water wheel drives the building’s sieves, shakers and millstones.

Gift shop

Exquisite, award-winning craftsmanship, high-quality Irish gifts and merchandise, including exquisite Irish Vanilla Fudge, make excellent souvenirs and gifts for home residents. You just can’t go wrong with the quantity and quality of choices.

Water Mill Café

A cozy and warm space, delicacies such as Cajun Chicken Salad will make a New Orleans resident feel right at home. Their buns, with unsweetened cream on request, have just the right lightness to make your taste buds dance. Being able to have both sweet and savory with such a high level of craftsmanship makes this the best place to stop for a meal of the day.

In addition to the mills, the grain farmland, associated mill pond (complete with mallard and swan), mill races and wetlands make this the perfect property for a good walk.

Looking from Skerries Coastal Walk to Shenick's Island

Looking from Skerries Coastal Walk to Shenick’s Island

Image credit: Derick P. Hudson / Shutterstock.com

2. A walk along the shore of the skerry

From the mills, walk past the Church of Ireland and Holmpatrick Cemetery, then to the shore on the South Shore Esplanade with plenty of benches along the path to sit and admire the view of the Irish Sea.

Upon reaching the Martello Tower on Red Island, built to resist a potential Napoleonic invasion, head towards North Strand Bay Beach and up the steps into Barnageeragh Bay. Remember the warnings about water flags. One of the widows of the 1916 Easter Rising, Muriel MacDonagh, was drowned at Skerries in 1917, a double devastation for the family.

Skerries beach

Skerries beach

Image credit: Kleber Seidel / Shutterstock.com

3. Beach

Three islands are visible from the beach: Shenick’s, St. Patrick’s and Colt. The latter two can only be reached by boat, but Shenick’s, home to the Martello Tower, can be reached on foot across the sandy plains at low tide. Watch out for the tides so you don’t fall into the trap.

If you get to the north end of the beach, around the corner and down a slippery path, you’ll find St. Patrick’s Footprint, where he is said to have set foot for the first time in the island nation of Ireland. Twice kidnapped and enslaved British subject Patrick eventually returned to Ireland a third time to convert to Christianity and became the patron of the land.

4. Canoeing

I found my kayaking group through MeetUp (a social network) that kayaks around the region. Joining a Latvian born gentleman who immigrated to Ireland and helping people find their adventure safely on the coast was the perfect place to experience history. He equipped us with a wetsuit, feet, paddle and kayak partner for our final safety briefing.

Perched on Skerries Beach beneath the Red Island Martello Tower, our twenty-two kayaks looked miniature against the backdrop of the Irish Sea. Plan? To paddle to Shenick Island from Martello Tower and then, tide permitting, to Colt Island, then back via the only west facing port on Ireland’s east coast.

Kite surfers loved the strong tide we experienced as they floated high in the air over the waves. We paddled hard and landed on the tiny island of Shenick, enjoyed a delicious banana feast and an imported Latvian chocolate covered treat, then climbed through the weeds to the Martello Tower.

The wave was too strong for us to reach the second island. Paddling for over two hours round-trip back to Skerries Marina was quite a strenuous workout. We were ready for a good meal.

Delicious Irish pasta

Irish pub noodles

Image credit: Gail Clifford

5. Restaurants

While my favorite place to eat in Skerries remains Skerries Mills Café, there are plenty of other excellent restaurants in town.

blue stripe

A local delicacy thanks to chicken wings, Blue Bar may have one of the best locations in town. Go early to grab one of the tables outside with the best view of Skerries harbour. With offerings that include a protein flavor profile, it’s hard to choose between crab salad, lobster, fish pie, duck breast, ribs, burgers or steak. You’ll have to come back often until you’ve looked at the menu.

bow your head

Named Leinster’s Best Gastro Pub in the 2018 Best Chef Awards, Stoop Your Head opens at noon and serves the crab claws New Englanders crave.

5 Rock

For a lively atmosphere visit 5 Rock. Right on the Skerries Harbor where we finished our kayaking trip, their brick walls and wooden bar welcome everyone (although we ate on the terrace). Grilled pizza, Irish steak with pepper sauce and crispy onion rings hit the spot for our group of aquatic warriors, although it was the honeycomb with chocolate cake that we found the most whimsical. Accompanied by melted marshmallows and ice cream, “Goat in the Boat” is a decadent dessert.

Brick House Restaurant And Tapas Bar

If you prefer tapas, you’ll want to stop by Brick House Restaurant and Tapas Bar. Their terrace is one of the best sunset drinking spots in Skerries. Great food, great views and great company make for a perfect evening.

Potager

Looking for an atmosphere? To check The Potager is housed in an old bank building on Church Street, and its Victorian fireplaces provide the perfect backdrop for two tasting menus. For those with a hearty appetite, check out the eight-course vegetarian option with wine pairing. This could be the perfect Skerries gourmet dining experience.

Di Vino

For Italian, head to Church Street and visit Di Vino. Their artisan Philotea egg noodles are unlike anything I’ve ever had. From an ancient recipe, the chef uses it in various dishes.

Fifty Pizzeria4

Where our favorite crispy crust pizza comes from Fifty4 Pizzeria where they make fresh pizza dough every day and then rest for 48 hours. Their food scene includes crab claws and entrees.

Molly’s Cafe

If you’re craving some great Irish sandwiches, check out the affordable ones Molly’s Cafe. Their burgers and chicken tenders are also delicious.

Piccolo Trattoria

Cosy Piccolo Trattoria serves some of the best tortellini we have ever tried. Other customers rave about crepes from award-winning chef Giorgio Borzacchiello. It is one of the hidden treasures of Skerries.

Irish Pub River Bar in Dublin

Irish Pub River Bar in Dublin

Image credit: Gail Clifford

6. Drink with the locals

Both tourists and locals like to stop in Olive’s Coffee Shop, where you can warm up with water sports, read a good book, start your day sightseeing or commute to Dublin. I love their smoothies.

For adult drinks you will want to visit Joe Mays, now run by the fourth generation. Opened in 1865, the fire seems to have been burning forever. Another local favorite is The Snug, full of memorabilia whose glassware in the back shines like another chandelier. Friends also recommended Nealon’s and The Malting House.

7. Skerries Bookstore

Like most writers, I love to read. I can spend all day in libraries or bookstores, especially when they contain smell and touch Skerries Bookstore. From the colorful green storefront to the friendly staff, this family-run shop offers books featuring local authors, current fiction, mystery and non-fiction, as well as school supplies. Paddy will order anything you need that isn’t already on the shelves.

Time in Skerries fills the brain, belly and restores the spirit. It’s great.

For more information on traveling to Ireland, check out these articles:

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